Here we are with another edition of “Ask the Pro” with Bob Abdou.
I have been thinking about working up a show to take to daycares and schools, that’s as far as I got, any thought? Randy G – Texas
Good direction to go into, I am going to focus on daycares in this answer and leave school shows for another time. Performing at daycares can be an easy way to start a puppet business. Let me throw some suggestions your way to help in achieving your goal. I have been performing at daycare schools since 1996 to the present, averaging over 100 shows a year. Why do I perform so many daycare shows? They make me feel young at heart, they are a nice source of income and I get to be home in time for lunch.
Let me just start out this story if you want to market daycare shows with this tidbit: You want to get hired again within the calendar year. If you find yourself getting phone calls from daycares throughout the year to come back, you doing something right – Congrats. There have been many daycares that hire me on the average of 3-6 times a year, this is what all pros want – “REPEAT CLIENTS”
When a daycare school hires me to perform a show, important details and guide lines are made before,during and after the show to be successful, here are some of mine:
*any child under the age of 3 must sit in the back
*children must stay behind the line during and after a show
*staff must be at each end of the audience in case of emergency
*staff talking? not during my show and this needs to be stressed in the intro
*any crying children, the show stops
*a crying child needs to exit the room so they can catch their breath
*payment is made either before or after the show, I do not accept term payments
*staff needs to participate by clapping and by watching the show
I am not going to comment on pricing because this is an individual decision. What I charged in Atlanta was too low for Philadelphia. What I charged in Philadelphia was too high for Austin. If a daycare has a budget, an entertainer needs to decide on whether to work within the budget or stay home, this is a personal choice.
Daycare shows are not like school shows where there is an emphasis on a theme. Daycare shows need to be fun, silly and professional lasting a minimum of 35 minutes. Crowd control is very vital, make sure young toddlers are positioned in such a way where all can enjoy the show without disturbance. If the audience can sit criss/cross (apple sauce) with staff members in the room, this will make for a safe and fun show.
A sound system is not a must but will be a huge help in controlling the room. I personally always perform with a sound system because ventriloquism works best with sound. There are many more suggestions for a daycare show but I have found when dealing with children, nothing is set in stone. Every group of children, every group of staff members and every daycare school is going to be a different adventure and challenge.
An important part in performing for daycare schools is to show the client that we are professional, have credibility and experience. Always arrive at least 1/2 hour minimum before showtime, we need to never make the client worry that we are not going to show up. An invoice needs to be sent to the client explaining the time length, cost, day and time of the show, this will help in the payment process. An invoice also allows the client to see that we are organized not some slacker who just plays with dolls. Once a performer gains respect from a client, the phone will never stop ringing.
Performing at daycares are a ton of fun, just make sure the check is not written in crayon (that actually happened to me).
If you have any questions for Bob, please send them to us.
Dan Willinger is a ventriloquism enthusiast and ventriloquist figure collector. He has been collecting for over 25 years. He created the Ventriloquist Central Collection. It now has over 100 ventriloquist figures and over 50 of them are Frank Marshall figures. Because of his love for the art of ventriloquism, Mr. Willinger created the website Ventriloquist Central. For more information about the website, go to: http://www.ventriloquistcentral.com
Copyright 2011 by Dan Willinger
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